Re-figuring things.

We moved more than a month ago, and yet we still don’t seem to have our groove back. School is getting done, but I feel as if I’m scrambling to catch up. We’re plugging through our skill subjects (math, writing, spelling) daily, but sometimes that’s all we can manage. Even favorite subjects like nature study and history aren’t getting squeezed in reliably, and I’m not finding that I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for planning. (Or blogging, as you may have noticed. I haven’t posted in so long that my sister called to see if I was all right.)

It’s time to make some changes.

For a while now, I’ve been feeling done with Five in a Row. I still completely love the FIAR model, but lately I’ve been itching to try something different. It may be that after 47 FIAR and FIAR-style books, we’re simply ready for a change, or it may be that we’ve used up all the books I couldn’t wait to study and have moved on to ones that don’t excite me as much. It may be that Alex is maturing and is ready for more sustained depth. I don’t know exactly what it is – I just know that I’ve felt ready to move on.

We do have FIAR Volume 4, which is a set of more in-depth,two-week picture book studies aimed at children aged 7-8. My original plan had been to start Vol. 4 after Christmas, mixing in some of the remaining one-week FIAR books we hadn’t gotten to yet, and to let that carry us through the summer of 2012. Recently, though, that plan hasn’t had much appeal.

This past weekend, while we were traveling for a family wedding, I read through Vol. 4, picked out lessons, mentally sketched out some field trips, and found myself getting excited about FIAR again. There are some great lessons in that book. We’d be studying deserts, cowboys, trains, snow, birds, sailing, haiku, Australia. It would be more in-depth and open-ended. We were back on track!

Until dinner tonight, when Alex begged and pleaded to study chemistry. She’s been asking for a while, actually, and complaining with some justification that Five in a Row doesn’t have enough science. Chemistry, in particular, has somehow really captured her imagination.

If we’re not homeschooling so that Alex can follow her intellectual passions, then why are we homeschooling?

So I junked my plans. All my plans, even the ones for fall of 2012, when I planned to start earth and space science. Instead, we’ll be starting R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Chemistry in January. Alex is tremendously excited.

But we can’t do an intensive lab science, history, math, spelling, writing, Latin, and a more in-depth and research-inclusive Five in a Row. Not to mention the nature study and religious education we’re trying to fit in, or, you know, some amount of time and attention focused on Colin. There simply isn’t enough time. (Maybe if I were home full time, but that isn’t going to happen.) At least, we can’t do it all at once.

Our new current plan is that beginning in January we’ll study history and science for a three-week block and then take a week or two to focus on a FIAR Vol. 4 book. We’ll keep that cycle that until we feel ready to drop FIAR, which may be in the spring or may be a year from now.

I confess that it’s hard for me to be this flexible. It feels wrong somehow to not complete all of Five in a Row – especially because it is such a great curriculum which has been rewarding for all of us. Then I remind myself that we’re homeschooling, not out of an allegiance to a particular curriculum or approach, but out of a desire to give Alex the education that’s right for her. And right now… that means a change.

This entry was posted in five in a row, policy & planning, science. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Re-figuring things.

  1. Natalie says:

    I think you plan sounds tremendous. In case it is of any encouragement to you, I will share our path briefly. We love, adore, delight in FIAR. I consider it our main curriculum, but we lay it aside all the time to race off down delight directed paths. We come back to it when we are ready or in between paths. It is a soft place to land.

    Last spring, we did 5 books in Jan, and then only one a month for Feb, Mar, Arpil . . . then only one all summer long, and then we did 8 from the end of July through end of September, and then we stopped again. In the meantime we have followed an American History tangent that has taken us all over the place and fueled a million fires of desire for learning in us and then we took a deep deep dive into Narnia, making up our own unit study and coming out the other side changed people.

    My plan was to come out of Narnia and Christmas school and maybe get a row or two in, but DD thrust us right into the middle of ancient Egypt. So I’m going with it. FIAR will wait for us!!!!! (We will probably row The Giraffe That Walked to Paris though).

    I particularly love it when I feel like we are slacking/off course and need to get back into a groove, or when we come off a big delight directed unit and I don’t have anything ready to be the next thing, because I just have to pick up a book and start reading and we are instantly back on track.

    I whole heartely agree with the idea of supporting your daughter’s interest without restraint. And the great thing is that you can insert a week or two of FIAR any time you want!!!

  2. Zelda says:

    IF you do get to do the Australian thing drop me an email @zeldad@gmail.com and I will send Alex some postcards from Australia. Am also happy to answer Australian questions/send vegemite/tim tams for tasting etc.

  3. Eddie says:

    I have been experiencing similar challenges this year. With work added in, we have scrapped half of my perhaps overly ambitious plans and I have not managed a single Latin lesson with the kids, or rowed a single FIAR book with my youngest since September.

    I think your new plan sounds like a good one, especially since you’ll get a chance to row “Snowflake Bentley” right in the middle of snow season! And your daughter will remember that you gave her the science she really wanted. All good things. :)

  4. Deb says:

    Yaay! You’re back! This should be interesting. I am wondering how she got so interested in chemistry as her first in-depth science?

    Deb

  5. Ian Osmond says:

    I’ve always wanted to do chemistry in a kitchen. I mean, fundamentally, a kitchen and a chemistry lab have basically the same equipment.

    I think you should make model rocket fuel and blow things up. This is because I live far away from you and won’t have to deal with the consequences. But, c’mon. Any education that doesn’t include both emergency room visits AND visits from the police isn’t a COMPLETE education.

    (Yes, I’m joking. Mostly.)

  6. Laura says:

    I can totally relate to what you have expressed here. We have started the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry curriculum and really like it. We are also trying to do Expedition Earth Geography, tie that to FIAR books, and SOTW history. And that, of course, is on top of the “basic 3 Rs”. On the days where we only fit in the basics, I feel a little guilty about not doing more. Like you, I am not a full-time homeschool mom in that I teach 10 piano lessons and 3 Kindermusik classes a week to bring in some income for our family. I am planning to take some time over our Thanksgiving “break” to get re-energized and spend some time planning. Right now we do history 2 mornings in a row (M&T) and science 2 mornings in a row (W&Th) and I’ve left Fridays for art projects, music study, nature study, etc., but we don’t consistently fit that in either. I was a public school teacher for many, many years before homeschooling. I try to pat myself down a little when I feel anxious about what we’re not fitting in by reminding myself that even when we just get the basics done, my children are still benefiting each day from the one-on-one time with me and the hours of freedom to explore their own interests. Take care!

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